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WBC-INCO.NET Report Summary

Project ID: 212029
Funded under: FP7-INCO
Country: Austria

Periodic Report Summary 4 - WBC-INCO.NET (Western Balkan Countries INCO-NET)

Project Context and Objectives:
The Western Balkan countries INCO-NET assists to develop the relationship between the EU and the WBCs in the area of science and technology (S&T), lasting from 2008 to 2013. The project supports the Steering Platform on Research for the Western Balkan Countries in the facilitation of interaction between the Western Balkan countries, the EU Member States, states associated to the Framework Programmes for RTD and the European Commission. The Steering Platform is a strategic body designed to deal with European, multilateral and regional issues of science and technology policies in and with the WBCs.

The core objectives of WBC-INCO.NET are:
- to support the regional as well as bi-regional dialogue on science and technology (S&T) by benefiting from and interacting with the Steering Platform on Research for the WBC, the European Commission as well as other stakeholders and projects in the area,
- to identify regional and bi-regional RTD potentials and priorities for take-up regional and European programmes in a transparent and methodologically sound way,
- to enhance participation of researchers from the region in European projects of mutual interest and benefit by implementing capacity building measures on a structural and individual level and by accompanying networking activities,
- to increase visibility of WBC researchers in the European Research Area in thematic priorities and through the representation at EU-level conferences,
- to analyse and support the innovation systems, innovation needs and innovation infrastructures in the region, and
- to analyse cooperation national and international research infrastructures, patterns of WBC in regional and European funding programmes and related barriers to cooperation, and
- to provide a platform to exchange information among stakeholders in the region via a web-platform, regular newsletters, journals and social media.

The preparation of evidence-based input and decision-making basics for the deliberations conducted under the bi-regional and regional dialogue is a major asset of this project.

The 29 partners, ministries of science, RTDI and economy, respective agencies and research institutes from Western Balkan Countries as well as EU Member States, carry out surveys and studies, organise trainings and brokerage events, visit conferences in the region and the EU Member States, communicate with international stakeholders and officials, prepare policy papers and guidelines, and implement dissemination activities towards national and international stakeholders in order to enhance the impact of project activities – targeting the European Commission, ERA-NETs or NCP projects as well as strategic initiatives by international stakeholders such as EUREKA, Central European Initiative and the EU Strategy for the Danube Region.

European integration and harmonisation of approaches are main aims behind WBC-INCO.NET. Impacts of the project include:
- Structured bi-regional dialogue on S&T between the WBC and the European Union
- Structured regional dialogue on S&T in the WBC
- Identified research priorities of mutual interest in selected thematic fields ready for take-up
- Improved information available on research and innovation systems and actors in the WBC
- Sound analysis of and recommendations for innovation systems and innovation support measures
- Trained multipliers in research and innovation in the WBC and know-how transfered
- Increased networking between researchers of WBC and EU MS/AC
- Increasingly better informed research community in WBC about integration to the ERA, possibilities for funding and networking
- Increasingly better image of the WBC research community at EU stakeholders and in projects

Project Results:
WP 1
- Co-organise 8 Steering Platform meetings and support the dialogue between EU-MS/AC and the WBC as well as the EC and other stakeholders through numerous mailings and conference participations
- Organise 4 regional dialogue meetings and prepare a joint position on the development of the Common Strategic Framework/Horizon 2020
- Establish contact with EC Directorates and several other projects and programmes through meetings and information exchange
WP 2
- Develop a sound methodology for priority setting
- Identify priorities in the fields of ICT, AgroFood, Health, Environment, Transport and SSH
- Initiate and support the lobbying process in the FP7 Programme Committees for the regional research priorities identified
- Perform a survey on the opinion of civil society considering research (priorities) in general and the Regional Research Priorities identified and analysis of the results
WP 3
- Monitor calls available for scientists and innovators in the region and the take-up of WBC S&T priorities in the Cooperation Programme
- Carry out a study on the barriers to cooperation
- Carry out an analysis of cooperation patterns in FP6 and FP7
- Carry out an analysis of opportunities to access research infrastructure
- Carry out a study of policies towards climate change (global issues) with regular updates
WP 4
- Training workshops on financial auditing in all Western Balkan countries and 4 training seminars for research managers on FP7 in general
- Two training workshops on financial project management and auditing for project partners
- Carry out learning groups for statisticians on STI indicators and statistics and peer visits to the WBC National Contact Points, as well as a benchmarking exercise providing feedback on the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of the services provided by the respective WBC-NCPs
- Carry out a workshop and two surveys aiming at developing a methodology for greater compatibility of national information systems
WP 5
- Organize three brokerage events on the topics of ICT, NMP and transport
- Several networking sessions and/or booths, e.g. during the ICT conference 2008 in Lyon; during the “Research Connection 2009” conference 2009 in Prague, media partnership with “12th CEI Summit Economic Forum-SEF”, participation at “ESOF 2010” conference in Torino, WIRE 2011 in Debrecen, Challenge Social Innovation in Vienna
- Setting performance goals for NCPs through learning group workshops
- Support networking of NCPs through KBBE NCP Networking Meeting and Networking Meeting for Health NCPs, both in Brussels.
- Training on “Project and Innovation Management in EU Framework Programme”
WP 6:
- Implement a sound administrative and financial management with regular virtual meetings of the executive steering board, coordination of work packages and tasks by the respective leaders, implementation of most activities as planned, preparation of most deliverables as scheduled; communication with the European Commission, preparation of amendment of the project in the frame of WBC-INCO.NET ENHANCED, support partners in communicating legal changes
WP 7
- Disseminate general information on S&T cooperation with the Western Balkan countries through the WBC-INCO.NET website with between 17,500 and 20.500 visitors per month
- the maintenance of related project databases
- Journal disseminated twice a year in pdf and printed version to more than 9.000 users as well as bi-weekly newsletters
- Brief website user survey carried out
- Facebook page with more then 500 fans
WP 8
- Organisation of 2 Innovation Dialogue Fora (IDF) with a view to addressing the innovation demands of the region and consequently assessing the establishment of a functional regional innovation system.

Potential Impact:
The tangible products of WBC-INCO.NET will include 56 deliverable reports, many of them yearly updated. These reports reflect the results achieved through dialogue and networking activities as well as analysis and capacity building.
* As a result of WBC-INCO.NET, a well structured bi-regional dialogue on S&T between the WBC and the European Union is being supported – the Steering Platform on Research for WBC, the deliberations are recorded in conclusions and minutes.
* Another result is a more structured regional dialogue on S&T in the WBC, which is focused on topics of interest to the WBC and results in joint positions and exchange of experiences.
* WBC-INCO.NET also opens up communication channels to the European Commission and other international stakeholders as well as important programmes and projects. All deliberations are documented and the consortium implements concrete follow-ups to the results.
* As a result of WBC-INCO.NET, research priorities of mutual interest are available in selected thematic fields and ready for take-up. The broader fields include ICT, AgroFood, Environment, Health, Transport, SSH and Energy. National background reports and regional consultations are carried out in order to select the priorities, the results are being communicated to the core stakeholders in the respective fields.
* WBC-INCO.NET provides several analytical reports which enhance the understanding of the barriers to cooperation, cooperation patterns, available cooperation possibilities, opportunities to access research infrastructures and also national research policies. In more concrete terms, reports are produced covering cooperation patterns in FP6, FP7 and PLUS, a mapping of research infrastructures in the region as well as information about access to EU-level infrastructures, and research policies tackling the global challenge of climate change.
* WBC-INCO.NET enhances the capacities of several stakeholder groups, among them statistical offices (with a focus on ERA indicators), financial project managers, researchers from academia and industry, National Contact Points and stakeholders dealing with research information systems. These target groups and multipliers receive training and targeted know-how transfer. The activities such as trainings are documented in reports.
* The project also targets to improve the networking possibilities and (co-)organisers brokerage events, information and awareness raising sessions and provides networking possibilities at regional and international events. Activities include also the representation of the region at major EU-level conferences showcasing the excellence and introducing the stakeholders. Also specific events and activities for NCPs are being organised. The final result shall be increased participation in EU programmes as the WBC research community is on the one hand better informed and on the other hand their visibility is increased and their image improved vis-à-vis EU researchers.
* With an enhanced focus on innovation, WBC-INCO.NET also provides information on innovation infrastructures and innovation systems, it enhances the specific dialogue on innovation policy support measures and provides concrete recommendations and action plans in this regards. Analysis as well as discussions are documented by the partners and widely disseminated. Cooperation with strategy development projects and other initiatives are carried out.
* WBC-INCO.NET establishes a platform of information exchange, mainly using electronic tools such as website, newsletter, and social media. The project reaches out to approx. 10.000 contacts interested in RTDI cooperation in and with the WBC.

List of Websites:

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